Priest Indictedon 42 Counts; Details 'Vague'

By Jessie Milligan
Albuquerque Tribune (New Mexico)
February 17, 1999

In spite of all the safeguards Roman Catholic Archbishop Michael Sheehan put in place to weed out sexual misconduct in the clergy, in spite of all the prayers that New Mexico's Catholic Church would heal, another priest now stands accused of sexual improprieties.

And the public doesn't know enough about the case to know how to come to terms with more accusations of sexual abuse in an archdiocese that's been rocked by such scandals throughout the 1990s.

A Bernalillo County grand jury Tuesday issued a 42-count indictment against the Rev. Robert Malloy, 41, former priest of Queen of Heaven Church who was suspended shortly after his arrest on charges of sexual misconduct in December.

The indictment makes the priest and former Albuquerque police chaplain eligible for a sentence of 97 to 193 years in prison, if he were found guilty on all counts.

The charges accuse Malloy of hiring or attempting to hire young Albuquerque teens for sex between 1994 and 1998.

In all, the indictment lists 14 teen-age victims, either as hired sex partners, potential sex partners, as helpers who aided the priest in hiding the acts, or as somehow being associated with Malloy in a way that caused their "delinquency," according to the indictment.

Even broad details of Malloy's arrest remain a mystery to the public, and even to the priest's attorney, Ray Twohig.

"The charges are vague. It is difficult to know what he is accused of doing," Twohig said.

The names and gender of the alleged victims were not released in the indictment. An Albuquerque Police Department spokesman has been quoted as saying at least a few of them were "high-school-aged boys."

State District Judge James Blackmer sealed portions of the search warrant and all of the arrest affidavit, the normally public documents that describe why a person was arrested.

And the thoughts of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe remain mysterious as well.

Hundreds of Catholics flocked to Queen of Heaven Church this morning for one of four Ash Wednesday Masses. The Rev. John Chavez did not mention the allegations from the pulpit this morning as he delivered the traditional message of repentance, forgiveness, and renewal on this first day of Lent.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has yet to issue a public statement on the case and how -- or if -- it plans to counsel its church members, aid the alleged victims or aid the defendant.

The archdiocese has also kept quiet on how Malloy may have fallen through the cracks in the Archbishop's platform on keeping sex abusers out of the church.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has been rocked by sex scandals involving pedophile priests, with nearly 170 lawsuits filed in the 1990s for cases that go back as far as 35 years.

In 1993, Archbishop Sheehan, heralded by the church as a healer, came to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, which covers most of Northern New Mexico.

In 1996, he announced that he had already put in place programs to ensure New Mexico's Catholics wouldn't have to worry about scandals.

The archbishop said then that he put in place several practices and programs, including:

* Sexual-abuse-prevention workshops to inform all employees, religious and lay, of matters relating to sexual abuse and harassment. The workshops are required of all employees.

A spokesperson for the archdiocese could not be reached for comment on whether Malloy had received that training. The archdiocese's administrative offices were closed today for an Ash Wednesday retreat.

* Guilty priests were removed from office in the earlier scandals, and the archdiocese suspended Malloy shortly after his arrest.

* Victims of the earlier scandals were given counseling, at a cost of $1 million. Sheehan spoke personally to more than 100 victims, apologizing for the harm done by guilty priests. Those steps would be premature in the Malloy case, where guilt has not been established.

* A Permanent Review Board is in place to deal with accusations within the archdiocese, but the archdiocese hasn't released information on whether accusations were ever made to the church during the four-year period in which Malloy is accused of committing the offenses.

* Seminarians and priests are now subject to thorough background checks, the archbishop has said.

Malloy's attorney has said his client's case should not be linked to the cases of pedophilia. Twohig contends that so far no evidence shows criminal sexual behavior, and that the long list of charges may turn out to be nothing more than "excessive prosecution" of a high-profile case.

Twohig said the grand-jury charges are based only on the testimony of one Albuquerque police officer who conducted the investigation.

A date for Malloy to enter his pleas has not been set. He is free on a $12,000 bond.

In all, he will enter pleas on 11 counts of "sexual exploitation of a child by prostitution"; 19 counts of "criminal solicitation to commit tampering with evidence"; 10 counts of "contributing to the delinquency of a minor"; one count of resisting arrest; and one count of tampering with evidence, where he is accused of destroying "letters and/or tapes and/or bottles" with the intent of covering up his alleged involvement in a crime.

Grand-jury proceedings are done in secret. The District Attorney's Office will not comment on the case, and Twohig said much of it is still a mystery to him.


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